Striking it rich is something many folks dream about, but what they don’t think of is just how hard it can be to hold on to that money once they’ve made it! Temptations lurk around every corner when you have wealth to spare, and for those without enough self-control, a pocket stuffed with dollar bills can become the recipe for a destructive downward spiral.
For one Louisiana millionaire, a successful career, trophy wife, and the admiration of his peers wasn’t enough to save him from a descent into greed-fueled madness. As his life teetered on the brink of collapse, the once-proud businessman hatched a sinister plot to take back what was once his…
Michael Handley of Lafayette, Louisiana, always lived a charmed life. A big-name player in the tech industry, Handley found success early on in his career and was a millionaire by the time he was just 30 years old.
The Daily Advertiser
But Handley’s wealth went to his head. The once-proud businessman developed drug and alcohol addictions, and his wife divorced him soon after, taking his fortune and their children with her. Sick, broke, and alone, Handley’s life was in the gutter.
Handley didn’t stay there long, however. He overcame his addiction and began working to restore his good name. Finding a foothold in healthcare this time around, Handley established a profitable chain of addiction recovery centers and quickly found himself richer than ever before.
The Daily Advertiser
Though he’d once again found the recipe for success, Handley never expected his new life would bring with it new love — that is, until he met Schanda Villarrubia. Drawn to her classy good looks, Handley was instantly smitten with Schanda, and, following a whirlwind romance, the couple married in Hawaii in 2006.
Schanda Villarrubia Handley / Facebook
Lafayette’s newest “it” couple quickly became the toast of the social elite, and they soon founded the Handley Family Foundation to raise money for worthwhile causes in their community. But even with all glitz and glamour of their fabulous lifestyle, Michael and Schanda’s marriage wouldn’t last.
In the spring of 2017, years of tension finally came to a head in a series of domestic disputes between the couple, with each accusing the other of serious abuse. Court proceedings soon followed, and it was during this time a number of concerns about by Michael came to light.
Along with years of infidelity, Schanda alleged that Michael had hacked her social media accounts, bugged her cellphone with a tracking device, and used fake phone numbers to send her threatening messages. After Michael and Schanda both petitioned the court for restraining orders, the couple filed for divorce.
Unfortunately for Michael, Schanda was looking to take everything, and given the allegations against him, there was little he could do to stop her. But before Michael could lose his fortune for the second time, the saga between him and his estranged wife took a horrifying turn.
With Michael now living at the couple’s second residence in Woodville, Mississippi, Schanda invited a close friend to stay with her in their home on Founders Street in Lafayette. All was normal in the house for the two women… until, on August 6th, they received a pair of unexpected visitors.
The Clarion Ledger
Two men, armed with semiautomatic pistols, forced their way into the home and took both women hostage at gunpoint. After handcuffing Schanda’s friend to a chair, the assailants threw a bag over Schanda’s head and dragged her outside.
The Clarion Ledger
The men tossed Schanda into the back of a van, where they proceed to abuse and threaten the frightened woman before handcuffing her to the seat. With their motives still unclear, the kidnappers hopped into the van’s cab and headed for the highway.
NBC Los Angeles
Things went awry, however, after a police cruiser caught sight of the van driving on the shoulder to avoid heavy traffic on I-10. The officer and his backup gave chase, but instead of turning onto a connecting interstate, the van made a b-line for a nearby fabrication plant.
As the van skirted the facility, one of its tires got snagged in the mud, leaving the vehicle totally immobile. The kidnappers tried to flee the scene by swimming across the Intracoastal Canal, but both men were swept away by the currents and drowned.
The kidnapping attempt was foiled, but as law enforcement took a deeper dive into the plot they soon made a startling discovery. After running the license plate of the kidnappers’ van, authorities traced the vehicle back to a Baton Rouge Enterprise that had rented it out to someone a day earlier. The name of that individual? Michael Handley.
No sooner was this information revealed that the Woodville police had Michael’s Mississippi compound surrounded. But he wasn’t there. Apparently, someone had tipped Michael off about the botched kidnapping attempt, and he’d fled the area.
After almost a week of searching, law enforcement officials were able to track to Michael to a hotel just outside of New Orleans. According to court filings, Michael was trying to charter a private plane to flee the country for good.
Michael was arrested on the spot, but while in holding at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center, he made a plea of insanity to avoid facing a criminal trial. However, following a psychological evaluation, Michael’s sanity was confirmed, and he was deemed fit to stand trial for his crimes.
In September 2017, Michael was indicted on a handful of charges related to Schanda’s kidnapping, including criminal conspiracy to commit second-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, and violation of a protective order. As of October 2018, he was awaiting trial.
The Daily Advertiser
By then, not only would Michael face criminal court, but there were still a handful of civil claims made against him for which he had yet to go to trial. Aside from his divorce proceedings, Schanda’s friend – the one present during the home invasion – was also suing Michael for emotional trauma.
Whatever the outcome of Michael’s trial, it’s unlikely that the former businessman will get a third shot at redemption. For those that believe money is the ultimate source of happiness, be warned: all that glitters is not always gold.
Let’s just be thankful this guy never won the lottery…
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